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How to feed a visiting monarch.

Ron Boender was bored. The year was 1985, and the entrepreneur had recently sold his Fort Lauderdale communications firm. He began puttering around the garden. "I always enjoyed watching butterflies," says Boender, who was raised on a farm in Illinois. "And so I started cultivating plants to attract the insects to my yard in Florida."

Butterflies, Boender discovered, are fussy creatures. Most species are attracted to the nectar of a few varieties of flowers, but usually deposit their eggs on just one or two types of plants - the only plants their larvae will feed on after emerging from their egg. Within months after his retirement, Boender had grown more than 400 nectar-producing and larval-food plants on his property. He also had taken meticulous notes on the plant preferences and behavior of each butterfly species. "My wife and three children thought I was obsessed," he recalls, "and in fact it was a hobby gone wild."

Today, at age 55, Boender has turned his hobby into a second career. Since 1988, he has operated Butterfly World in South Florida, the largest educational, butterfly-breeding facility in the United States - a place where hundreds of people go every year to take courses in creating butterfly habitat at their homes, schools and offices. As a result of his efforts, nearly half of the elementary schools in his area now garden for butterflies. "Ron and his facility have had a tremendous impact on the people of South Florida," says University of Florida entomologist Thomas Emmel.

Boender believes he has good reason for his obsession. Butterflies, he maintains, are one of the few types of wildlife anyone can help provide habitat for on a consistent basis. "All it takes," he says, "is research on which native species are most common to your area, and which plants those species require for feeding and reproduction."

Although a butterfly's brain is only about the size of a pinhead, it contains a complex set of stimulators and regulators. A butterfly smells math its antennae, tastes with its feet and has remarkably acute vision that enables it to zero in on preferred food plants.

About 760 known species flit through the United States and Canada. Most butterflies live as adults for only a few weeks. But some, such as the monarchs of the eastern United States, which migrate 2,500 miles each year to wintering grounds in Mexico, survive for several months. All of the species follow the same general life cycle: The adult females lay eggs on a specific host plant in spring, summer or fall (depending upon the species); each egg hatches into a larva, which spends all of its time eating until it transforms into a chrysalis and eventually emerges as an adult.

Because butterflies have such specific plant needs, several U.S. species have vanished after their habitat was destroyed. Currently, 15 North American species are federally listed as endangered or threatened; 70 more are candidates for the U.S. Endangered Species List.

For those imperiled insects, says Washington State lepidopterist Robert Pyle, "butterfly gardening won't provide any relief because we're not going to attract those species." However, proper backyard plantings can aid some declining species. They can also, says Pyle, help keep "common species common," and help maintain their distribution so they don't become rare. Adds Cornell University entomologist Thomas Eisner: "Whether you have just a few plants or an entire garden to attract butterfly there's something magical about having the delicate insects around your home."

Most experts agree that there are a few common rules for attracting butterflies to your yard. "Always plant in an area that receives a lot of sun, and avoid using insecticides and other garden chemicals," says Boender. Plants in full sun produce more nectar than those in shade. The insects must maintain high body temperatures to stay active; they bask in sunlight while feeding.

The insects also are most often drawn to clusters of same-colored flowers, rather than to mixed bouquets. And newly emerged butterflies often need a place to drink - a pond or wide flat saucer filled with water and pebbles to perch on.

What kinds of flowers attract butterflies? "In general, bright single flowers with corollas that are not too deep and petals large enough for good perching,' says Pyle. Unlike most other insects, butterflies can see the full spectrum of color, and each species seems to have an affinity to certain hues. Virtually all of the insects, however, are attracted to Buddleia, a sort of catnip for butterflies. It grows in most climates. Boender also recommends the following flowering plants, which provide nectar for most species in most parts of the country: heliotrope, lantana, milkweed, mint, pentas, verbena and zinnias.

No matter how many nectar sources you plant to attract the adults, the insects are only apt to stay in your yard if you also grow proper larval food plants, planting them near nectar sources. "This is the key to providing true habitat," says Boender. "If you just plant nectar sources, you're not really gardening for butterflies." The larvae of a few species, such as gray hairstreaks or painted ladies, will feed on a number of plants. But most are specialized. Monarch larvae, for instance, eat only milkweed.

With help from lepidopterists and experienced butterfly gardeners all across the country, Boender has charted the larval plant preferences of some of North America's most common native species, region by region. The guide on the following pages is a good place for beginning backyard butterfly gardeners to start.

REGION 1 Oregon, Washington, sosuthern Bitish Columbia

Butterfly Larval Host Plant Western tiger swallowtail Wild plums and cherries (Prunus spp.) (Papilio rutulus) Willows (Salix spp.)

Aspens and poplars (Populus spp.) Pale swallowtail

Wild plums and cherries (Prunus spp.) (Papilio eurymedon)

Buckthorns (Rhamnus spp.)

Wild lilacs (Ceanothus spp.) Anise swallowtail

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) (Papilio zelicaon) Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)

Carrot (Daucus carota)

Dill (Anethum graveolens) Meadow fritillary

Violets (Viola spp.) (Boloria bellona)

Lorquin's admiral Willows (Salix spp.) (Limenitis lorquini)

Poplars and aspens (Populus spp.)

Mourning cloak Willows (Salix spp.) (Nymphalis antiopa)

Elms (Ulmus spp.)

Aspens (Populus spp.)

Cabbage white Garden nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) (Pieris rapae)

Cabbages (Brassica spp.)

West Coast lady Hollyhock (Alcea rosea) (Vanessa annabella)

Painted lady Hollyhock (Alcea rosea) (Vanessa cardui)

Sunflowers (Helianthus spp.)

REGION 2 Arizona, California, Nevada

Butterfly Larval Host Plant

Western tiger swallowtail Wild plums and cherries (Prunus spp) (Papilio rutulus) Willows (Salix spp.)

Aspens and poplars (Populus spp.) Two-tailed swallowtail Wild plums (Prunus spp.) (Papilio multicaudatus) Ashes (Fraxinus spp.)

Anise swallowtail Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) (Papilio zelicaon)

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)

Carrot (Daucus carota)

Dill (Anethum graveolens)

Black swallowtail Same as anise swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)

Pale swallowtail Wild plums and cherries (Prunus spp) (Papilio eurymedon) Buckthorns (Rhamnus spp.)

Wild lilacs (Ceanothus spp.) Pipevine swallowtail

Pipevines (Aristolochia spp.) (Battus philenor)

Cloudless sulphur Wild sennas (Cassia spp.) (Phoebis sennae)

West Coast lady Hollyhock (Alcea rosea) (Vanessa annabella)

Monarch Milkweeds (Asclepias spp.) (Danaus plexippus)

Gulf fritillary Passion vines (Passiflora spp.) (Dione vanillae)

REGION 3 Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Wyoming, southern Alberta, southern Saskatchewan, southwest Manitoba

Butterfly Larval Host Plant

Western tiger swallowtail Wild plums and cherries (Prunus spp.) (Papilio rutulus) Willows (Salix spp.)

Aspens and poplars (Populus spp.)

Pale swallowtail Wild plums and cherries (Prunus spp.) (Papilio eurymedon) Buckthorns (Rhamnus spp.)

Wild lilacs (Ceanothus spp.)

Cabbage white Garden nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) (Pieris rapae)

Cabbages (Brassica spp.)

Striped hairstreak Wild plums (Prunus spp.) (Satyrium liparops)

Blueberries (Vaccinium spp.)

Ashes (Fraxinus spp.)

Weidemeyer's admiral Willows (Salix spp.) (Limenitis weidemeyeri)

Aspens and poplars (Poplus spp.)

Choke cherry (Prunus virginiana)

Mourning cloak Willows (Salix spp.) (Nymphalis antiopa)

Elms (Ulmus spp.)

Aspens (Populus spp.)

Great spangled fritillary Violets (Viola spp.) (Speyeria cybele)

Monarch Milkweeds (Asclepias spp.) (Danaus plexippus)

Painted lady Hollyhock (Alcea rosea) (Vanessa cardui)

Sunflowers (Helianthus spp.)

REGION 4 New Mexico, Texas

Butterfly Larval Host Plant

Patch butterfly Sunflowers (Helianthus spp.) (Chlosyne lacinia)

Gulf fritillary Passion vines (Passiflora spp.) (Dione vanillae) Hackberry butterfly Hackberries (Celtis spp.) (Asterocampa celtis)

Cloudless sulphur Wild sennas (Cassia spp.) (Phoebis sennae)

Buckeye Snapdragons (Antirrhinum spp.) (Junonia coenia)

Verbenas (Verbena spp.)

Monarch Milkweeds (Asclepias spp.) (Danaus plexippus)

Pearl creseent Asters (Aster spp.) (Phyciodes tharos)

Question mark Hackberries (Celtis spp.) (Polygonia interrogationis) Elms (Ulmus spp.)

Nettles (Urtica spp.)

REGION 5 Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Daota, Oklahoma, south Dakota, Wisoncisn, southeast Manitoba

Butterfly Larval Host Plant

Pipevine swallowtail Pipevines (Aristolochia spp.) (Battus philenor) Black swallowtail Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) (Papilio polyxenes)

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)

Carrot (Daucus carota)

Dill (Anethum graveolens) Spicebush swallowtail

Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) (Papilio troilus) Sassafras (Sassafras albidum)

Great spangled fritillary Violets (Viola spp.) (Speyeria cybele)

Buckeye Snapdragons (Antirrhinum spp.) (Junonia coenia)

Verbenas (Verbena spp.)

Pearl creseent Asters (Aster spp.) (Phyciodes tharos)

Viceroy Willows (Salix spp.) (Limenitis archippus)

Poplars (Populus spp.)

Plums and cherries Prunus spp.)

Cabbage white Garden nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) (Pieris rapae)

Cabbages (Brassica spp.)

Monarch Milkweeds (Asclepias spp.) (Danaus plexippus)

Cloudless sulphur Wild sennas (Cassia spp.) (Phoebis sennae)

REGION 6 Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, south Carolina, Tennessee, virginia

Butterfly Larval Host Plant

Black swallowtail Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) (Papilio polyxenes)

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)

Carrot (Daucus carota)

Dill (Anethum graveolens)

Spicebush swallowtail Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) (Papilio troilus)

Sassafras (Sassafras albidum)

Tiger swallowtail Wild cherrys (Prunus spp.) (Papilio glaucus)

Poplars (Populus spp.)

Pipevine swallowtail Pipevines (Aristolochia spp.) (Battus philenor)

Buckeye Snapdragons (Antirrhinum spp.) (Junonia coenia)

Verbenas (Verbena spp.)

Pearl crescent Asters (Aster spp.) (Phyciodes tharos)

Monarch Milkweeds (Asclepias spp.) (Danaus plexippus)

Cloudless sulphur Wild sennas (Cassia spp.) (Phoebis sennae)

Gulf fritillaty Passion vines (Passiflora spp.) (Dione vanillae)

Red-spotted purple Willows (Salix spp.) (Limenitis astyanax)

Wild cherries (Prunus spp.)

REGION 7 Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, southern Ontario, southern Quebec

Butterfly Larval Host Plant

Black swallowtail Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) (Papilio polyxenes)

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)

Carrot (Daucus carota)

Dill (Anethum graveolens)

Spicebush swallowtail Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) (Papilio troilus)

Sassafras (Sassafras albidum)

Tiger swallowtail Wild cherries (Prunus spp.) (Papilio glaucus)

Tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera)

Cabbage white Garden nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) (Pieris rapae)

Great spangled fritillary Violets (Viola spp.) (Speyeria cybele)

Pearl crescent Asters (Aster spp.) (Phyciodes tharos)

Monarch Milkweeds (Asclepias spp.) (Danaus plexippus)

Buckeye Snapdragons (Antirrhinum spp.) (Junonia coenia)

Verbenas (Verbena spp.)

Mourning cloak Willows (Salix spp.) (Nymphalis antiopa)

Elms (Ulmus SPP.)

Aspens (Populus spp.)

Red-spotted purple Willows (Salix spp.) (Limenitis astyanax)

Wild cherries (Prunus spp.)

REGION 8 Southernmost Florida

Butterfly Larval Host Plant

Polydamas swallowtail Pipevines (Aristolochia spp.) (Battus polydamas)

Giant swallowtail Wild lime (Zanthoxylum fagara) (Papilio cresphontes) Citrus (Ruta spp.)

Zebra longwing Passion vines (Passiflora spp.) (Heliconius charitonius)

Julia Passion vines (Passiflora spp.) (Dryas julia)

Gulf fritillary Passion vines (Passiflora spp.) (Dione vanillae)

Orange-barred sulphur Wild sennas (Cassia spp.) (Phoebis philea)

Cloudless sulphur Wild sennas (Cassia spp.) (Phoebis sennae)

Monarch Milkweeds (Asclepias spp.) (Danaus plexippus)

Queen Milkweeds (Asclepias spp.) (Danaus gilippus)
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Title Annotation:monarch butterfly
Author:Wexler, Mark
Publication:National Wildlife
Date:Aug 1, 1994
Words:1802
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